31...cough...cough...I can barely croak it out...let me try again...
31 years ago (whew) Mark was a sophomore in high school and I was a lowly 7th grader (no, we didn't start dating then). But in our neck of the woods (Largo, Florida) we had something we were very proud of...our high school band.
Believe it or not, being in the band was actually cool back then (shocking, I know). We had every kind of kid--jocks, nerds, brains, beauties, geeks...you name it, they were in band. And being a member of the band meant something. We had a dress code (no jeans at school, ties for guys, dresses for girls on performance days) and we had an honor code. We learned responsibility and time management (arriving 5 minutes before schedule meant you were late, everywhere the band went, we always arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule)
We even had an acronym...
PRIDE: Practice, Responsibility, Integrity, Determination, Enthusiasm
Our lives, at the time, revolved around the band...actually our whole town supported the band. People didn't come on Friday nights to see the Packers play football, they came to see the half time show. Guys like Mark played the big old silver sousaphone (sometimes called a tuba by mistake), instead of football. The band program at our high school got so large, there were three marching bands...one just for 9th graders, Blue Band for 10th graders, and Band of Gold for juniors and seniors.
I had a couple of cousins in it, so I got to hang around practices and performances. And when I eventually made it to high school, I joined and twirled a rifle all four years (yes, a rifle...you'll see what I mean).
But back in the summer of 1978, something amazing happened. After two years of non-stop practices, performances and fundraising, 220 high school students boarded a couple of Pan Am jets and flew to Europe for a 16 day tour which included performing for the Queen at the Royal Tournament, starring in a British television special, and touring England, Ireland, France, and the Netherlands.
But those things weren't the reason they went...the World Music Contest was. The World Music Contest is like the Olympics of marching band. It takes place in Kerkrade, Holland and the best of the best around the world come. And so the Largo Band of Gold went...and won. They won 1st prize (175 points out 180), a gold medal with distinction, and overall championship of the contest.
So the videos from that July day, way back in 1978 are now on Youtube so I thought I'd post them...so if you've got 18 minutes or so, check 'em out. You'll hear the crowd gasp and applaud before a single note is played and even hear a little Dutch being spoken!
...the video quality ain't great but you can still see the "old school" way of marching band... long gone now :(